Posts

Showing posts from September, 2006
Image
.
.
Compressed charcoal and white nupastel on strathmore of Clark Allen. A reference for this weeks drawing class.
.
Image
.
.






Sci fi gouache quicksketch
.
.

SORRY, BUT MY RHINOCEROS DROWNED

Image
Artists are most creative when they have to explain a missed deadline or a mistake in their artwork. This honorable tradition of excuses goes back as long as there have been artists. One of the best excuses came from Durer, an early illustrator.



The year was 1515, at the dawn of the Age of Exploration. Western civilization was awakening from centuries of medieval sleep, turning from superstition to the Scientific Revolution and the Renaissance. Durer was tasked with drawing a rhinoceros but unfortunately, nobody had ever seen a rhinoceros in Europe. It was an almost mythical beast described by travelers from exotic lands.

Explorers captured a rhinoceros in the far jungles of India. They strapped the great beast into a ship and sent it back to Europe. It was on its way to Italy, a gift to Pope Leo X, when the ship went down at sea.


What could Durer do? He never got to see the rhinoceros, so in the time honored tradition of illustrators everywhere, he faked it from a description and from …

THE TRIBUTE OF A SIGH

Image
In 1748, Thomas Gray stood alone at dusk in the crumbling remains of a small cemetery in the English countryside. He thought about the generations sleeping beneath the moss-- farmers and plowmen from humble villages where fame or fortune never visited. Soon the ivy would cover the last vestiges of their time on earth.

Gray wrote a beautiful
Elegy to these "unhonored dead" who have no monuments to commemorate their lives. He reminds us:
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire.Their neglect, says Gray, is the way of the world:
Many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air. I think of Gray's elegy when I turn the yellowed pages of old magazines or newspapers and see the valiant work of thousands of now forgotten artists: staff artists for newspapers, draftsmen working in the bullpens of commerical art studios, freelancers eking out a living. Much of their art is best forgotten, but many of these artist…

ARTISTS IN LOVE, part five

Image
The meanest illustrator who ever lived was surely James Montgomery Flagg, who was always quick with an unkind remark.

Flagg's autobiography makes fun of the contrast between illustrator Albert Dorne and Dorne's wife. According to Flagg, Dorne's wife was beautiful, petite and elegant while Dorne looked like a brute who might murder you in a dark alley.




It's true that Dorne carried the psychic scars from his childhood in the slums. He had to scratch and claw his way out of Hell's Kitchen not only for himself but for his mother, his two sisters and his younger brother. He worked as a boxer and dealt with terrible situations that, in his own words, left him "hard boiled." Not surprisingly, he became a heavy drinker with a difficult personality. He rapidly went through three marriages.

But somewhere along the way, Dorne began to outrun his demons. He seemed startled to find himself capable of a permanent relationship with his fourth wife. After fifteen years of m…

BEN JAROSLAW

Image
When I was younger (and dumber) I didn't pay much attention to illustrations of cars.  Sure, the illustrators had great skill, but I viewed them as technical specialists rather than true creative artists. If there was ever a subject matter that cried out for photography, it had to be cars.



I began to pay closer attention when I realized that some of the best illustrators of the day-- Austin Briggs, Fred Ludekens and Robert Fawcett-- were doing car illustrations. But my eyes weren't fully opened until the day I heard the illustrator Bernie Fuchs discuss car illustrations the way a poet might rhapsodize about a flower.



Today Fuchs is famous for his lush, impressionistic paintings, but in the 1950s he worked in a Detroit studio painting car advertisements (including these).  He worked closely with car painters and still holds them in the highest regard. He recalls one car illustrator as "a great observer of light and color" and another illustrator as "terrific at pai…
Image
.
.
Golden barrel cactus at Hunnington Gardens, LA.
.
Image
.
..
.

FOLDS I LOVE

Image
The world offers unlimited numbers of cool things to draw. Yet, artists seem to have special affection for drawing folds in fabric.



Folds dominate so many pictures, it is clear that artists are fascinated by them. Their complexity, their movement and their abstract quality give artists a lot to play with. Sometimes folds are such fun to draw that artists go a little overboard:



Although folds in cloth have remained basically unchanged through the ages, the artist’s treatment of them has changed dramatically. Folds in medieval art were generally angular, while folds in Renaissance art were rounded. For a contrast between two different cultures, compare the carefully controlled, tightly rendered folds drawn by the great illustrator Durer in 16th century Germany...





...with the lush, spontaneous lines of another great illustrator, Bernie Fuchs, in the U.S. in the 1970s:





Today, Christo brings the artist's obsession with folds into the modern era with his brilliant wrapped works...



...or his …